NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio (WJW) — Detectives in North Olmsted said a disturbing case involving a serial predator who targeted young girls online, should serve as a wake-up for parents.
The story began to unfold in June of 2021, when a suburban Cleveland woman checked her 8-year-old daughter’s smartphone and was disturbed to see messages she was receiving on Snapchat from a man who would later be identified by North Olmsted police as 31-year-old Jonathan Francis Speidel of West Des Moines, Iowa.
“The mother did a great job, you know, recognizing right off the bat, you know, checking the daughter’s electronics and seeing that it didn’t go on for very long before it was brought to mom’s attention,” said detective Jeff Richards.
When North Olmsted officer Margery Jones met with the mother and daughter, she immediately recognized that authorities needed to take a close look at Speidel’s activities on social media and his interaction with children. The evidence they found revealed that Speidel was a predator, with a history of grooming young girls he met online.
“You know, he started talking about the videos that she had posted on TikTok and commenting on those, trying to befriend them and then not too long after, it turned into asking for pictures and things of that nature,” said Richards.
After North Olmsted police gathered the initial evidence about Speidel’s online behavior, they contacted the FBI and authorities in Iowa. A coordinated investigation revealed that Speidel was coercing young girls into sending him explicit images, and that in some of the cases, he met with and raped underaged girls and recorded the crimes. A search of Speidel’s phone and computer uncovered a mountain of evidence.
“A ton of child pornography on his phone, pictures and videos and he’s been doing this for quite a while — years,” said Richards.
Based on the investigation that was launched in North Olmsted, Jonathan Speidel pleaded guilty to various sex crimes and child pornography charges and was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison.
“I thought he got exactly what he deserved,” said Richards.
Investigators said the disturbing case of Jonathan Speidel should serve as a warning to all parents about the dangers lurking on various social media platforms. They point out that if the mother of the 8-year-old girl had not checked her daughter’s phone, the crimes of Jonathan Speidel might have gone undetected.
“Just be vigilant,” Richards told FOX 8. “We constantly tell our kids: ‘Don’t take candy from strangers. Don’t go talk to strangers in person.’
“That same thing goes for online, you know? Don’t talk to people you don’t know. You don’t know what their intentions are — if they’re trying to befriend you or trying to do this.”
If the 31-year-old Speidel is still alive at the end of the prison term, he will be classified as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.